Thursday, May 26, 2011

Painkiller Addiction? I am now a crazy person. Warning - rant ahead. Don't read.

I'm really struggling with the use of certain painkillers at the moment.

On days that I take them I find I am relaxed, happy, pleasant towards my co-workers. I feel as though they let me be my normal happy self, free from the constant pain that otherwise leaves me irritable tearful and generally unpleasant to work with.

Some days I don't take them. I do this very deliberately, to see what its like without them. To try gauge how much I really need them. Those days have been difficult. I am slower at my job. I don't stay a second past my knock off time and I find I am in pain all day.

The pain killers I take are effective for about 4-6 hours, so even in the afternoons as they are wearing off I don't feel worried, because I know I am going home soon.

I don't take them at home or in the weekends.

I only seem to have needed them in the last two weeks as I have returned to the dreaded machine that caused my over use injury in the first place.

Anyway, I know this type of painkiller can become addictive. So as I am down to my last two, I find myself nervous about asking for more. The occupational health doctor never perscribes anything on  repeat. And I have to go and ask (beg) every month for the next lot of anti-inflams, nerve calmny things, losec to take with the harsh anti-inflams and quality painkillers. The nerve calming things give you dry eyes and dry mouth but are supposed to help dampen the pain signals. The anti-inflams turn my stomach hence the need for losec. The only things that I feel work without side effects is the painkiller.

The pain killer feels like the only effective thing I have in my arsenal. They still haven't approved my acc (private acc type insurer actually, my work doesn't use acc) claim, its been months (since October 2010) and I got a letter two weeks ago saying they were still deciding. Perhaps they are afraid I want money? I don't want compensation, I want to keep working! I want effective treatment! Lack of acc approval means I am limited to what treatments I can afford. I can get physio at the hospital for free thank goodness. However some of the treatments I have received have been less than ideal (juggling therapy anyone?) 

 My private health insurance wont cover anything unless its absolutely sure work insurance/ACC (whatever) wont cover it. I end up with little choice into how my injury is actually treated. Its dis-empowering and depressing. I am just about ready to cash in my meagre savings for some private treatment and second opinions. 

My occ health doctor, who does he work for? His main job is to keep hospital staff off acc and in work, or so my boss says. So what does that really mean? He doesn't work for his patients best interests? Perhaps Occupational health doctors should be independent contractors because I don't really trust him. (It turns out he's part of the panel that approves/disproves my claim.)

I have never had a proper diagnosis. At first it was definitely muscular, when I laid down for my first physio treatment it was obvious which shoulder was in pain, without even touching it. A swollen and raised shoulder blade was fairly obvious. Now they say its just a pain issue, Just a PAIN issue? wtf. I think I damaged my subscapularis muscle.Sprain or tear or aggravation I don't know. Anyway all the exercises they gave me in the beginning made things a lot worse. Imagine having a sprained ankle and being told a couple of games a of tennis a week should fix it right up. I think it should have been immobilised and rested. But in the beginning I was advised to continue as normal.

My right hand grip is now weaker than my left, for a right handed person this is highly unusual. I cannot do a lot of my normal activities. (This leads to sadness.)

I just pretend at work that I feel fine, I try anyway. Chronic pain can't be "seen" I suppose and is difficult to sympathise with. I just tell my co-workers I'm fine. People get sick of hearing anything else. The correct answer is "fine, thanks"  and finish with a smile.  Sympathy only lasts for a short amount of time in the work place anyway. They are kind people, and they ask after my shoulder, "How is your shoulder?" but why should I burden them with the truth? They just want to be kind and asking shows concern, but beyond that.... what can they do or help with. I appreciate it every time they ask after me. But I refuse to unload my pain onto them any more. I sound like a broken record. (A crazy broken record)

This whole thing has turned me into a crazy person. I feel emotionally weak, I have lost all my resilience. 

I am not me any more. I don't think I have been for some time.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I havent blogged since my shoulder packed up.

A repetitive movement at work, that I have been doing for 11 years now finally caught up with me. It caused a burning pain that just got worse and worse. Constant stabbing and burning, no position would relieve it, many sleepless nights were had.

Through the Occupational Health dept  I was able to get a couple months respite from doing the movement and treatment to heal the injury. I busied myself with doing all the other tasks there are at my job. I was not sitting around with my finger up my bum.

I have now reached a place where I can live with the pain. Its pretty good, with the right drugs. Some days its not even there at all. Sure there's a few side effects but its a small price to pay.

Now that the two months is up I want to slowly ease back into this motion. I used to do it for 5 hours a day. I suspect if I went back to it at that level the nerve would flare up again and I would be back where I started.

So I suggest to my boss that I start off slow, maybe just do it for an hour a day, building it up over several weeks. But that went down like a lead balloon. Its all or nothing apparently (yay cliches!) Well one day of doing this task from 7am till 12:30pm (with a break for a cuppa!) has flared it up. Its okay for now, but a couple weeks of this and I might go back to where I was. I have to hope like hell I'm healed and my body adapts to this movement.

Its been made clear to me by my boss that there is no place for me in the lab if I can't do this one task. I am devastated. I am dedicated to my job, but totally unsupported by my boss and have been thrown on the scrap heap already. I know that legally I can't be fired for getting a work place injury. But I love working where I do. I am really worried about what's going to happen. Maybe I'll be shuffled off to file medical records in the basement.

Its a stressful time.

The months and month of chronic pain had taken their toll on my emotional state and now this. I got to say my emotions are very close to the surface these days.

Probably start crying at NZ post ads now.